Wednesday, April 6, 2011
Where Does The Office Go From Here?
When it was first announced that NBC was going to air their own version of the British comedy hit "The Office" I was among the many skeptics. I had only recently been put on to the British version by a friend who was into obscure foreign comedies (you know the type) and couldn't really see how the newscaster guy from The Daily Show and Bruce Almighty could fill Ricky Gervais's shoes. Plus, there wasn't exactly a storied history of fantastic European shows adapted for American audiences (a lot of Coupling fans out there?). Any way, part of what made the brief but memorable British series so great was it's ability to embrace cringe-worthy humor; most of the laughs were kind of uncomfortable. Not something that was real popular in American sitcoms of the time. There weren't even that many shows without laugh tracks at this point.
Everyone knows what happened after that: the show was a surprise hit, spawning a ton of copy-cats (some actually pretty good) and Steve Carrell's career sky rocketed thanks to Judd Apatow and most of all his portrayal of the bumbling boss Michael Scott. While the pilot of the NBC Office was almost a line for line remake of the British show (and it just didn't feel right), they hit their groove later in the first season, mostly due to Carrell's performance and the writers' slight alterations for American tastes. While Gervais's David Brent is both a fool and a prick, Michael Scott is just really a fool, who still has some redeeming human qualities. Add some office romance that turns into a precious yuppie married couple (who I always got the feeling were the only characters on the show the viewer was supposed to identify with and laugh with rather than at) and you have a smash hit show that everyone loves.
Now that Carrell is leaving though, doesn't this mean the end of the show? The Michael Scott character dominates every episode. Even if he's not in a scene, it's usually a quick distraction from the next Michael adventure. Almost every episode ends with him speaking to the camera. There's been plenty of speculation as to who might try to replace him (Will Ferrell will make a few appearances but won't be permanent), and the crazy all-star lineup of the season finale was recently released. Of that crew, I'd say only one would be a suitable replacement (besides Gervais himself). Will Arnett has made a career of being the self-important douche-bag who thinks highly of himself but is really a delusional jerk on Arrested Development and the short-lived Running Wilde, as well as the rest of his film appearances. Perfect. Gervais endorsed this move recently, and I have to say, I can't imagine anyone else who could pull off somewhat loveable but completely stupid at the same time. It's either that or a half hour of Jim and Pam making cute faces at each other and the camera.
Here's to Will Arnett, the next boss at Dunder Mifflin.